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Physicists are a curious and ambitious lot. Their aim is to understand the fundamental principles that describe and govern all physical aspects of the universe. Historically called “natural philosophers,” physicists investigate by means of controlled experimentation and mathematical analysis. Physics includes the study of systems ranging from sub-atomic particles to the largest galaxies and from the relative stillness of near absolute zero to the fiery activity of stars. Physics plays an important role in many of the liberal arts disciplines and contributes to society’s understanding of such areas as energy, weather, medical science, and space exploration. A good background in physics (and the associated problem solving skills obtained therein) will prepare you well for a multitude of careers.
Recognizing the importance of physics in contemporary life and the need to keep abreast of rapid technological advances, the department strives to give students not only an understanding of basic concepts, but also insights into recent developments. A rigorous major provides students with the preparation required for graduate study in physics. It also provides flexibility, serving as a stepping stone to advanced work in related areas such as astronomy, engineering, materials science, atmospheric science and meteorology, oceanography, biophysics, environmental science, and the medical and health-related fields. The department serves the liberal arts by offering courses for non-science students that enable them to attain a general understanding of a particular area of science. These courses provide the basis for further study and enable students to follow new developments in science with heightened awareness and comprehension.